The presents are under the tree; they are wrapped. We know there is something good there, and we think that we know what it is. But we haven’t seen it, and we don’t know what it is, until we get to tear the paper off. Then the gift will be revealed. That’s the idea in Isaiah 40:5-9:
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together… Behold your God!
When something great and glorious is revealed, you want to look at it. Imagine a person who is given a diamond. She opens the box, sees the sparking jewel, but then she puts it aside, and opens another box that turns out to be candy. You would say, “Look at what you have just opened! Nothing else that you open will come close to this!” In Christ, there is both a revealing of the Lord’s glory and a beholding of it.
The glory of the Lord is the full wonder of who God is, the splendor of God Himself. In the book of Exodus, we read about how Moses said to God, “Please show me your glory” (33:18). Now here’s the fascinating thing about that prayer: something of the glory of God had already been revealed to Moses. But it had been revealed in cloud (Ex. 16:10), which means it is unknowable, and in fire (Ex. 24:17), which means it is unapproachable.
So, Moses comes before the Lord and says, “I’ve seen the reflections in fire and the cloud, but I want to see the full wonder of who you are! I want to see your face! Show me your glory!” God says, “You cannot see my face and live” (Ex. 33:20).
Now think about what Isaiah says in 40:5: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” What Moses longed to see will be put on display. And this glory will be displayed for everyone—not just Moses.
The same prophet tells us how this will happen. “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name will be called Immanuel [God with us]” (Isa. 7:14). When Jesus Christ was born into the world, John wrote: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” (Jn. 1:14).
Glory to Behold
To “behold” means “to look at.” Since the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, at what should we look?
1. Look at your God.
Behold your God (Isa. 40:9)!
Here is the miracle of Christmas: God became man in Jesus Christ.
Christ is the “image of the invisible God, the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3). God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Jesus Christ (Col. 2:9). We have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). The full wonder of all that is God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, so that Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 1:4:9).
How can you know God? Where can you find God? Who is He? What is He like? These are the greatest questions of life, questions that will shape your eternity. And God has not left you to make up your own answer.
When you want to know who God is, look at Jesus Christ. When you look at Him you will see holiness, compassion, justice, truth, mercy, kindness, patience, and love.
If people should tell you that they hate God, ask them to tell you about the god that they hate. Then talk to them about Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of Him.
2. Look at His strength.
The Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him (Isa. 40:10).
The glory of the Lord has been revealed, and He is awesome in strength.
You see this in His life as He endured temptation, opposition, and the relentless demands of people in need pressing in on Him day after day. And you see this in His death as He endures suffering beyond anything we can grasp or describe. You see it most of all in His mighty power by which He raises Himself from the dead: “Nobody takes my life from me: I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again” (Jn. 10:18).
Think what a Savior with this kind of power could do for you! There are things about yourself that you have not been able to change. You have found, as the Bible says, that “the leopard cannot change its spots.”
You would like to turn over a new leaf, to be a new and better person. You have tried, but you’ve found that it’s harder than you thought. You need a power that is greater than yourself. Look! Behold! The Lord God comes with might. The glory of the Lord has been revealed! The Savior has come! He reaches out to you with strong hands and with a mighty arm.
3. Look at His reward.
His reward is with him, and his recompense before him (Isa. 40:10).
This verse reads, literally, “Behold! His wage is with him: His work is before him.” Christ comes to do a work and to earn a wage.
What is the work? Why did Jesus come into the world? Listen to his own answer to that question: “The son of man has come to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). Here is the great work for which he came into the world. When Christ took our flesh and was born on that first Christmas, the cross was before him. Becoming the sacrifice and substitute for sinners was before him. Paying the price, the ransom, was before him.
What is the wage? What does Christ want so much that he would leave heaven’s glory and stoop to take to Himself the frailty of our human flesh? What is the reward He desires so much that He earns it through unspeakable agony on a cross? The answer is: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd” (Isa. 40:11). What does Christ get from all that he endured in this world? What are these wages that he so desired? A flock of dirty, smelly sheep! A flock that needs tending and gathering and carrying and leading.
Brothers, sisters, we are that flock.
Jesus says it so clearly: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). That’s why Jesus Christ came into the world. The flock are his wages. Redeeming you is his reward.
You can be sure that having purchased His flock at such a cost, Christ will tend and gather and carry and gently lead His flock (Isa. 40:11). He says about his sheep: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28).
Isaiah says later, “He shall see the fruit of the travail of his own soul and he shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11). What is the fruit of all that Christ endured in His soul and in His body? Answer: The flock. When you grasp what Christ did to make you His own, you will not doubt His love.
The glory of the Lord has been revealed in Jesus Christ. Look at Him. Behold your God! Trust Him with your life. Worship Him with all that you are and with all that you have, and follow Him all your days of your life.
O, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
This article is an adaptation of Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Behold Your God”, from his series, Waiting for the Lord.